Funding shortfalls delay road upgrade project

Niël Terblanché

The project to upgrade the road between Henties Bay and Uis to bitumen standard has been delayed due to a lack of funds.

The Minister of Works and Transport, John Mutorwa, recently visited the site and noted that initial plans to have two contractors working simultaneously on the road from Henties Bay to Kamanjab were thwarted by funding constraints.

Mutorwa reiterated the project’s importance in diverting heavy truck traffic from the congested B2 Road to Walvis Bay harbour while at the same time enhancing Namibia’s western transport corridor.

He said the 96-kilometre road is part of a larger vision to connect the Walvis Bay harbour to southern Angola through the Trans-Kunene corridor.

The minister indicated that the government has so far invested N$700 million in the project, which has an estimated total budget of N$1 billion.

The Roads Contractor Company (RCC) and Chinese-owned Zhong Mei Construction Company were awarded the contract through a tender process.

According to Mutorwa, the road upgrade is a significant component of Namibia’s strategy to improve its transport infrastructure, aiming to boost economic growth and social benefits.

It will facilitate better connectivity between Namibia and its northern neighbour, Angola, improving the movement of goods and people across the region.

He added that the project also aims to alleviate poverty by providing better access to health and education services, markets, and public transport.

According to Conrad Lutombi, Chief Executive Officer of the Roads Authority (RA), the project, originally slated for completion this year, is currently only 52% complete.

Lutombi mentioned that the RA will seek additional funding during the mid-term review of the National Budget to expedite the project’s completion.

He added that late payments have been a major issue, affecting contractor productivity and leading to increased costs.

Nevertheless, the RA continues to work towards overcoming these obstacles to meet the project’s objectives.

The broader Swakopmund-Henties Bay-Uis-Kamanjab road project is part of Namibia’s Fifth National Development Plan (NDP5), which seeks to establish a reliable and sustainable transport infrastructure by 2022.

The plan includes upgrading 1 850 kilometres of roads to bitumen standards to support trade, industrialisation, and regional integration, ultimately contributing to the nation’s socio-economic development.

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